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Geographic Origins

Palestine is a small land in the eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and south- western Asia.

History of Immigration and Settlement

Much of the migration of Palestinians to Australia has occurred after major conflicts that displaced Palestinian people from their homes. 

Hassam Bushara was among the earliest known Palestinian immigrants to South Australia. He arrived in Port Adelaide as a young man in 1908. For several years he believed he was in America. Unscrupulous shipping agents often exploited naive immigrants by charging them for a passage to the most expensive destination.

The 1947 census recorded that there were 108 Palestinian-born South Australians.

A number of Palestinians came to South Australia after the creation of Israel in 1948. They were among 700,000 Palestinians who fled the region at that time.

A group of Palestinians immigrated to South Australia following the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan. About a million Palestinians were displaced by the subsequent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Recent Palestinian immigrants have come to South Australia to improve employment opportunities and their quality of life.

Palestinian South Australians have settled throughout metropolitan Adelaide. They are employed in a range of occupations.

Community Activities

The majority of Palestinian South Australians are Muslims. 

A small number of Palestinian South Australians belong to the Orthodox Church of Antioch. 

The Australian Friends of Palestinian Association (AFOPA) is based in South Australia. AFOPA is a not-for-profit community organisation that actively engages in advocacy for a just peace between Palestine and Israel. Since its establishment in 2004, AFOPA has significantly added to an understanding in Australia of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its effects on the Palestinian people.

Organisations and Media

  • Australian Friends of Palestinian Association (AFOPA)
  • Central Arab Information Bureau
  • Adelaide Mosque Islamic Society of South Australia Inc.
  • Islamic League of Australia Inc.
  • Islamic Society of South Australia
  • Muslim Women’s Association of South Australia
  • Renmark Islamic Society
  • Saint Elias Orthodox Church of Antioch

Statistics

The 1986 census recorded 48 South Australians of Palestinian descent. 386 people stated they were of Arab descent.

As Palestinians do not recognise Israel, it is likely they were among the 99 people who did not clearly define their Middle Eastern birthplace in the 1991 census.

The 1996 census did not list people of Palestinian descent.

The 2001 census recorded 217 South Australians of Palestinian descent.

The 2006 census did not record any Palestinian-born South Australians, although 211 people said that they were of Palestinian descent.

The 2011 census did not record any Palestinian-born South Australians, although 259 people said that they were of Palestinian descent.

The 2016 census did not record any Palestinian-born South Australians, although 442 people said that they were of Palestinian descent.
 

By Migration Museum

This article is part of the From Many Places project documenting the diverse cultural groups in South Australia. It is a project started by the Migration Museum in 1992 and continued in partnership today. 

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